Our interdisciplinary, project-based and hands-on program is created by our core classroom teachers. Year to year, different essential questions become thematic jumping off points. Questions are complex and engaging, and include: What makes us human? What is the origin of life? How do we design and re-design in our environment to solve problems? What defines a civilization? An authentic inquiry approach in classroom discussions opens students’ minds and creates a sense of purpose in learning.
Based upon the interests and profiles of each particular class group, teachers initiate and evolve their program through the year to both assure growth in academic skills and the development of Core Capacities.
Sample past units have focused on
- Civilization, society and origins of humankind including the Big Bang, religion, and more
- Energy and Newtons’ laws of motion,
- What makes us human with deeper focus areas about governments and the human body as a system
- Ancient Egypt and emergence of culture
- Climate change and the industrial revolution
- Structural engineering, Haiti, earthquakes and questions of global health
Classroom experiences and projects showcase and expand students’ learning in the arts, lab sciences, engineering, computer science, applied technology, woodshop, and electronic arts. Teachers also expand students’ exposure to innovators in related fields, integrating external curriculum collaborators to enrich student learning.
Core and Specialist teachers partner to develop projects that fit their themes. Ongoing assessment, portfolio creation, and projects emerge from these themes as students
- Build scooters and see saws to showcase their learning about Newton’s Laws of Motion while learning new woodshop skills and improve their environment with their own ideas.
- Dissect a cow heart to have a more deep understanding of cardiology and human systems.
- Author their own class play to showcase their understanding of how ancient and modern societies are different, while also making their own props, costumes, music and script.
- Build their own bridges and present them to showcase their structural engineering knowledge.
- Write advocacy letters to governmental representatives about topics they have become committed to through their study of the constitution, and create an App to give elementary students access to an annotated version of the U.S. Constitution.
- Create mini museums to showcase their learning in geology and ecosystems.
- Design and paint murals to beautiful the playground while depicting themes about protecting the environment.
- Invent and implement service learning projects to raise awareness about issues of importance for societal health.
Each year brings fresh projects and possibilities, and new ways that students take initiative to improve their world. Students experience school as a place to engage, learn, solve problems, and change things to make their school, community, and the world better.